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  1. #1
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    Easier or harder to climb with 27.5 vs 26?

    I'm finally looking to update my decades old 26" mountain bike and wondering whether it's easier or harder to climb on a 27.5" (assuming same chaingring/cassette/ratios)

    Also, debating between a 32 x 10-50 Eagle GX vs 30 x 11-46 XT setup and would appreciate any thoughts from those who've ridden both.

  2. #2
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    Depends on the terrain. For fire road climbing, having less rotating mass with the 26ers is going to be an advantage. On a more technical climb, the 27.5ers may allow you to roll over some things that you'd need to lift/hop over with 26ers and therefore be better at climbing.

  3. #3
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    I'm guessing any difference will be negligible, maybe a slight nod to 27.5 on traction. You may notice the "inch gears" difference keeping the same drivetrain though. I would absolutely go for the eagle, chainline alone makes it worth it with a 32 up front. I'm liking eagle much better than 11 speed on all fronts.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    I'm guessing any difference will be negligible, maybe a slight nod to 27.5 on traction. You may notice the "inch gears" difference keeping the same drivetrain though. I would absolutely go for the eagle, chainline alone makes it worth it with a 32 up front. I'm liking eagle much better than 11 speed on all fronts.
    Thanks, what do you mean by 'inch gears'? And can you say more what you mean by 'chainline' in your comment about 32t (I'm also considering 30 x 10-50)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by acousticbiker View Post
    I'm finally looking to update my decades old 26" mountain bike and wondering whether it's easier or harder to climb on a 27.5" (assuming same chaingring/cassette/ratios)

    Also, debating between a 32 x 10-50 Eagle GX vs 30 x 11-46 XT setup and would appreciate any thoughts from those who've ridden both.

    Easier because of the longer, slacker geometry. Older 26" is harder to climb because of the upright, shorter frame. Many people would disagree with this but I don't care lol.
    Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres: quod Belgiae, quod Celtae, et quod Aquitainae.

  6. #6
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    It seems counterintuitive until you see it and ride it in person but the larger diameter front ring has a pretty drastic effect on chainline. This has a pleiotropic affect on everything from dropping chains to component wear to shifting performance. If you google inch gear gragh or the like you can read up on that but it's essentially tire size vs gear ratios.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

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    I'm 66. I went from a Pivot 5.7c, all decked out (26) to a Yeti SB5c 2 seasons ago, all decked out. I've posted over a dozen PR's on climbs I've tracked for years. The climbs are from 45 minutes to over an hour and a half in the Wasatch, starting at 7000 feet.

    So, I vote "easier".

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    I think that all that was posted above have merit. On smooth climbs 26ers are probably better, as trails get a little rougher the bigger wheels will definitely be better.
    As far as gearing goes, I went from Eagle, back to XX1 11 spd because my bikes max chainring size is a 32, and I never ever needed a 32-50 gear. I now run a 32-46, which works better for me, although I don't use the 46 that often.
    I was hoping to run a 36t chainring with the Eagle.
    EXODUX Jeff

  9. #9
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    Here this will help. https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html

    Choose your chainring size and cassette and this thing spits out GIs for comparison between the two proposed drive trains. My only input on which is easier to climb i find the "new" geometry type frames with slacker HAs and Steeper SA that center you in the bike climb better.

  10. #10
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    I would go with a 27.5 since there will be a better tire selection. Most companies are making a small and medium 27.5 so companies like maxxis will continue to put out 27.5 ikons and ect. The biggest thing is finding a bike that fits your local trails and old 26" bikes are still at home on some of them. Vittoria is the only company I really know of releasing new nice 26" rubber such as the mezcal and barzo.

  11. #11
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    The difference is minimal at best. Tires are going to make the biggest difference climbing or otherwise. Plenty of options available in both sizes.

    Why not 29er?

    As far as drivetrain, I'd hold off for the release of XT 12spd but if I had to choose, I'd get the current XT with a Sunrace cassette.

  12. #12
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    when i switched from 26 to 650b there i did not noticed any drawbacks in climbing while maintaining same gearing 32front 42rear. you dont need much more. i live in co front range, lots of steep rocky climbs and i dont even use 42 most of the time. mostly stay in 36 in steep grinds. now this past summer i tried to switch to 29 (demoed about every new bike available) but the difference in climbing was pretty noticeable to me. for same trails, i had to even use 50 cog while only having 30 front. they are just so sluggish for me and i ended up getting another 650b bike instead.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by brankulo View Post
    when i switched from 26 to 650b there i did not noticed any drawbacks in climbing while maintaining same gearing 32front 42rear. you dont need much more. i live in co front range, lots of steep rocky climbs and i dont even use 42 most of the time. mostly stay in 36 in steep grinds. now this past summer i tried to switch to 29 (demoed about every new bike available) but the difference in climbing was pretty noticeable to me. for same trails, i had to even use 50 cog while only having 30 front. they are just so sluggish for me and i ended up getting another 650b bike instead.
    What are you smoking? Kona Hei Hei, Giant Anthem Advanced 29er, Spesh Camber/Epic EVO, Niner RKT9 and the list goes on. None of these are sluggish. At all. Yes, I've demo'ed them all on actual trails. Some had Eagle, some XT. Never needed the 50t and I'm not even a strong climber.

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    I recently went from 26 to 27.5 (see bikes in sig). For me the increase in wheel size did not seem huge. Yeah, the bigger dia makes a bit of difference in 'rollability' over terrain but it's subtle. I think people who go to a bigger wheel size tend to overlook the other differences between an older bike and a newer designed bike.

    I really noticed the following:
    1. Totally different geo between the 2 bikes. On new Kona the front wheel is way forward compared to the Heckler and the swing arm is shorter. Totally changes how the bike feels in all conditions. For climbing, geo is a big factor and if your terrain includes lots of climbing, I would make sure the bike design you get is the right tool for the job vs focusing on wheel diameter. The new Kona happens to be a great climbing bike for an XL 153mm travel FS bike.
    2. First dropper for me...being 6'4" it changed things in an unexpected way. The obvious benefit is pushing the seat down and out of the way in technical terrain. But I found that I can finally extend my seat to a fully extended climbing position which is huge. Before droppers, I set seat at a happy medium for tech terrain and climbing which meant I never really had full leg extension on climbs.
    12 Santa Cruz Heckler
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by acousticbiker View Post
    I'm finally looking to update my decades old 26" mountain bike and wondering whether it's easier or harder to climb on a 27.5" (assuming same chaingring/cassette/ratios)

    Also, debating between a 32 x 10-50 Eagle GX vs 30 x 11-46 XT setup and would appreciate any thoughts from those who've ridden both.
    Just swapping to a bigger tire on my 26er it was obvious how much better the taller wheel rolled through rough terrain, which is most of what we ride here. Going to a 275er was noticeably better again. I didn't notice a huge difference in terms of gearing going 26er to 275er. I'd skip Eagle for the 275er unless you really need super easy gears. I think a 30 x 46T low gear would be fine.

    For a 29er Eagle or equivalent is nice.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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  16. #16
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    No difference.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    It seems counterintuitive until you see it and ride it in person but the larger diameter front ring has a pretty drastic effect on chainline. This has a pleiotropic affect on everything from dropping chains to component wear to shifting performance. If you google inch gear gragh or the like you can read up on that but it's essentially tire size vs gear ratios.

    Huh?

    Are you saying that a 29" can get away with a higher gear ratio for climbing than a 26"?
    Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres: quod Belgiae, quod Celtae, et quod Aquitainae.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Huh?

    Are you saying that a 29" can get away with a higher gear ratio for climbing than a 26"?
    What? I'm not sure how you extrapolated that from that.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by acousticbiker View Post
    Thanks, what do you mean by 'inch gears'? And can you say more what you mean by 'chainline' in your comment about 32t (I'm also considering 30 x 10-50)?
    What he's trying to vomit out is that with a smaller teeth front ring and 12 speed you spend more time in the smaller teeth sprockets which then have a better chainline so you drop chains less or whatever (I've never dropped a chain with Shimano 11 speed 1x or 2x).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    It seems counterintuitive until you see it and ride it in person but the larger diameter front ring has a pretty drastic effect on chainline. This has a pleiotropic affect on everything from dropping chains to component wear to shifting performance. If you google inch gear gragh or the like you can read up on that but it's essentially tire size vs gear ratios.
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pleiotropic

  21. #21
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    ^^^Word of the day?

  22. #22
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    Using big words instead of actually explaining implied effect... ok?

    Anyways on topic, the difference is negligible imo.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Huh?

    Are you saying that a 29" can get away with a higher gear ratio for climbing than a 26"?
    he's talking about chainline and never even mentioned 29ers (or any wheel size), do you ever read or understand anything anybody is talking about?
    All the gear and no idea.

  24. #24
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    My guess is in comparing test rides for climbing on same/similar frame geo with gearing corrected for wheel size, same tire tread and psi etc....
    there would be no difference.

    In the case of comparing 27.5 and 29 , it should prove to be a pretty easy test since a few brands offer "twins". Same exact bike in either flavor.
    In the Middle Ages, the biggest mistake was not putting on your armor because you were 'just going down to the corner.'

  25. #25
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    I find geometry, fitness and technique to have a greater effect on climbing than wheel diameter. You might notice a slight improvement in rollover capability with the 27.5" but it's pretty subtle. It makes sense to move to 27.5" simply to future proof your purchase, imo. Also, 1X drivetrains are super great. (I started riding when 3X7 was the norm) Also, consider an oval chainring-it makes a difference.

  26. #26
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    I'm gonna buck the conventional wisdom here, so ladies and "gentlemen"- ignite your flamethrowers...
    I have two hardtails; one 26 and one 27.5. They have similar cx geo, similar wt, and run 2.4 and 2.5" tires respectively. So...

    I find when riding tech/chunky, without gravity-fed momentum*(*important disclaimer!), the LOWER rotating mass of the 26ers are EASIER to hump and huck over obstacles.

    I'm specifically talking about when you must personally generate the momentum to maintain your line- (pedaling/body english/levitation/whatever) and not just coast through [a section] to clear it. Stuff I do a lot of, where I ride.

    So yes, downhill (and monsters that can accelerate uphill), there is "advantage" in being able to bundle down the mountain on bigger/fatter hoops. But I wonder how much less work it is muscling those big ole rims up/over the tech stuff.
    And you know what they say about people with big rims... They must have a big...tire.
    Anyway last time I checked, bigger was generally heavier. Just sayin'.

    So clearly, for my riding style, and the trails I like, and for the reasons above, 26ers are just better.
    There, I said it. FLAME ON!
    "I may not be fast descending, but I'm pretty slow climbing."

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyNil_Rider View Post
    I'm gonna buck the conventional wisdom here, so ladies and "gentlemen"- ignite your flamethrowers...
    I have two hardtails; one 26 and one 27.5. They have similar cx geo, similar wt, and run 2.4 and 2.5" tires respectively. So...

    I find when riding tech/chunky, without gravity-fed momentum*(*important disclaimer!), the LOWER rotating mass of the 26ers are EASIER to hump and huck over obstacles.

    I'm specifically talking about when you must personally generate the momentum to maintain your line- (pedaling/body english/levitation/whatever) and not just coast through [a section] to clear it. Stuff I do a lot of, where I ride.

    So yes, downhill (and monsters that can accelerate uphill), there is "advantage" in being able to bundle down the mountain on bigger/fatter hoops. But I wonder how much less work it is muscling those big ole rims up/over the tech stuff.
    And you know what they say about people with big rims... They must have a big...tire.
    Anyway last time I checked, bigger was generally heavier. Just sayin'.

    So clearly, for my riding style, and the trails I like, and for the reasons above, 26ers are just better.
    There, I said it. FLAME ON!
    i actually totally agree. i did find this out while doing demos on 29ers this summer. while you are climbing steep techy stuff, where your speed is on the verge of stopping and when you constantly have to keep the wheel spinning (sort of trying to accelerate all the time), the larger rotating mass plays a big role. i did feel sluggish on whatever 29er i rode. you are not going to fool physics here. where i ride, there are a lot of climbs like this and therefore i stuck with 650b bike.

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    Iím new but Iím going to hop on this a little.
    The common sense answer is that if you keep momentum on this long climbs, a 27.5 will roll over those rocks and bumps better but give you a little less length out of your pedal.

    As an anecdote, I rode my buddies older yeti 26er and it felt miles different on the climbs. I had to push harder to keep the smaller wheels rolling through some of the tech stuff.

    Thereís probably a trade off, definitely should be on tons of demos.

    As for the drivetrain. I rock a 32 x 11-46. I came from a 32 x 12-42 wide range 1x10 with the praxis cassette. Great cassette if you wanna stick with a 10 speed. We have some pretty steep uphills here or some shallow ones. Thatís all going to be preference and what you want to spend. Your eagle gx is going to be a little less cost effective than your standard gx setup. Demo it up and see how you feel. My guess is that if youíre riding that old school 26er, with the tech, either new dt will be acceptable, but that eagle ads a little more ease.

  29. #29
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    I have a 26" Giant Reign with a Fox CTD fork and 27.5" Transition Patrol with a Fox 36 factory. The Patrol climbs better and is more enjoyable to pedal.

  30. #30
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    Get the 27.5 because it's the current hotness. You'll have more options for tires, wheels, and forks.

    The change in climbing will be not incredibly noticeable, when talking about just wheel size.

    Updating to modern geometry, suspension, drive train will make a difference though. You will be stoked, but the extra inch in diameter will not be the reason.

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

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    i would say get the 27.5 over the 26, yes for hucking, b-hop-ing, and manuals, the 26 will be easier to pick up a high speeds do to the lower spinning weight, but this depends heavily on wheel weight, rider weight, speed, and the geometry on that said bike.

    going up hill though, the 27.5 will dip slightly less in bumps than a 26 will, this also depends on the before mentioned things,

    for riding up service roads or going to get coffee, the 27.5 will be more efficient on roads hence the larger wheel sizes on road bikes (ew) and xc bikes.

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